The Washington regimes’ demand that the Chinese firm ByteDance sell the U.S. presence of its video sharing app TikTok to a U.S. tech company is not a smart move. This follows related demands that the Chinese mobile app WeChat cease operating in the U.S., and that Chinese Huawei’s 5G mobile phone technology be banned from the U.S. and from use by any of its international allies.
In blocking Chinese tech the U.S. regime in effect deprives American people and American companies of advanced technologies which their competitors will use in other countries. TikToks AI and big data functions for social media and other uses are two years ahead of anything produced in the U.S. The Wechat mobile app is far better and more powerful than its U.S. mobile counterpart Whatsapp; Huawei’s 5G technology is ahead of all world competitors.
The recent appearance of these leading-edge technologies from China is not by chance. And more are undoubtedly to come. Beijing is now a world center of research and innovation in information technology, bio-technology, and more. And its combined capital value for its hi-tech companies is greater than that of Silicon Valley; Shenzhen in southern China, once a tiny fishing village, has also emerged in recent years as an innovation hot-house; and other hi-tech hubs are arising in other cities in this nation of 1.4 billion people.
Every move to block Chinese tech will, moreover, inevitably be met with reciprocal defensive measures by China to ban export to the U.S. of advanced Chinese technology and/or to block U.S. tech sales in China, and the Chinese tech market is *much bigger* than the U.S. one.
How Can the U.S. Block TikTok?
How precisely will the Washington regime stop U.S. residents from using Tik-Tok and other Chinese apps if the U.S. rights are not sold? Will they ban it outright at the network level? That would be an action without precedent in the U.S. and put paid to its claim to be a champion of ‘free markets’.
Alternatively, the Washington regime could demand that Apple and Google remove Chinese apps like TikTok from their app stores where U.S. users download them. That could seriously cut into their future use, though offshore apps stores would no doubt still offer them. U.S. companies could also be forbidden to do business with Tiktok in terms of advertising or other commercial relationships, as has already been done with Hawaii.
But here too the Washington gang would be playing a very dangerous commercial game. For the basis of their anti-Tiktok campaign and anti-WeChat campaigns is the unsubstantiated claim that they may provide private users information to the Chinese government. On the other hand, It is a proven fact, well-known to the Chinese government, that U.S. app makrets such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft have actively collaborated with the U.S. so-called National Security Agency (NSA) to infiltrate China and purloin millions of our text messages and phone information and computer data, including tapping of former Chinese president Hu’s phone.
Unlike the claims against Tiktok, the past U.S. NSA cyber penetration of China, including its sensitive military labs, is a proven fact due to the documents released by the courageous whited-blower Edward Snowden.
If the U.S. regime continues the anti-Chinese app trend on security grounds, China may very well reciprocate by banning Apple, Google, and other U.S. apps and phones from its market on the same security grounds as a defensive measure. In China’s case, this measure would be supported by the proven record of NSA collaboration with the U.S. tech giants, and would represent massive financial losses for those firms.
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Eric Sommer is an international journalist living permanently in China.
Featured image is from Flickr